By Jon Plant, DVM, DACVD
In a somewhat embarrassing setback, yesterday Zoetis (NYSE: ZTS) was forced to inform veterinary customers that Apoquel, their new drug for canine atopic dermatitis, is now on back-order only 3 weeks after its national launch. Veterinarians who have not ordered Apoquel up until now will not be able to receive any product. Veterinarians who have ordered Apoquel and have begun treating patients will have a very, very limited supply available while on back-order.
I hope that this back-order situation is as temporary as Zoetis has suggested, but veterinarians are all too familiar with back-order status dragging on and on with various pharmaceuticals.
While I am certainly not privy to the details of how this shortage in supply or distribution came about, it is perplexing considering that Zoetis has been heavily promoting the drug and the science behind it for a few years, had several months of ordering experience form the veterinary dermatologists in the Early Experience program, and projects that 7 million dogs in the United States are candidates for Apoquel.
I know that this is just a temporary hiccup, but a frustrating one for veterinarians and the clients that may not be able to refill their pet’s medication.
Update (2/6/14): Dr. Candace Sousa, Associate Director of Veterinary Operations with Zoetis has provided me with some clarification on the short-term Apoquel shortage. A large supply of tablets has already been manufactured and is stored in Europe, awaiting packaging for distribution in the various countries in which it is being launched. Veterinarians in the US ran through what was anticipated to be a 3-month supply within a few weeks of launch, thus we are waiting on the already manufactured tablets to be packaged appropriately, processed through customs, and shipped to the US distribution centers.